‘Train journeys have become the bane of my life’ – Abellio Greater Anglia and Cross Country service users beyond fed up with constant cancellations, delays and having to ‘fight fellow commuters’
- Credit: Archant
“Continually late services”, “gross overcrowding” and fallen leaves causing wheel damage are among many problems causing daily nightmares for Ely commuters.
In just 12 days, 900 trains have been cancelled in the East Anglia area because of a ‘sudden fall of leaves on the train line’.
Abellio Greater Anglia has warned that a number of services between Ipswich and Peterborough, via Ely, are being cancelled as a result of “poor rail conditions” this autumn.
The cancellations are said to be causing “more than double” the average number of diesel trains to return with wheel damage.
As a result, customers are being advised to travel on Ipswich to Cambridge services to connect with Cross Country services to Peterborough.
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However, this means that journey times are likely to be extended by up to an hour.
Many rail users say they feel short-changed because of this ‘substandard’ service - for which they pay thousands of pounds a year.
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Candice Schuster, from March, said “the train journeys have become the bane of my life and many others, to put it politely.
“For the past three years I have taken the 7.31am Cross Country train from March to Cambridge and the return journey Cross Country train at 5.01pm from Cambridge to March,” she said.
“The 7.31am service has nosedived significantly,” she added. “Not only is the service continually late, we are now not even afforded excuses for the late running of the train.
“If the continual lateness of the train was not enough we have to fight fellow commuters to get onto the train as they are grossly overcrowded.”
Ms Schuster added that the 5.01pm train’s main issue is “extreme overcrowding.
“This has been raised over and over again with Cross Country, but to no avail - and all this for £250 per month for a return journey.
“If I was to sit here and earn a pound for every train incident I have experienced in the last three years I would quite easily be able to forgo a month’s train fare.”
She said that, to make matters worse, rail users are only able to claim compensation if a train is more than 30 minutes late or cancelled.
“Try explaining that to your superiors each time you arrive 25 minutes late for the day,” she added.
“It really is a complete and utter nightmare.”
Network Rail, which maintains tracks, has however said it is running extra circuits of its “leaf-busting rail treatment trains” and keeping staffing levels high at depots to combat the problem.”
A spokesperson for Abellio Greater Anglia also apologised for the disruption and said: “We are working with Network Rail to review the issues that have affected our diesel train fleet and looking at what actions we need to take to improve this situation in the future.
“We apologise for the ongoing impact of train service cancellations and the inconvenience this is continuing to cause our customers. On average we are continuing to see two trains arrive back at the end of each day with wheel damage, more than double the rate we have experienced in previous autumn periods.
“We are determined to do all we can to continue to improve services in the immediate short-term and looking ahead for the future.”
Another rail user, Hettie Cliss, from March, spends £250 per month on train services, but said her morning Cross Country service has only been on time twice this month.
“I then get the Abellio Greater Anglia train home and these services have been cancelled for the last seven days in a row because of leaves on the rail lines which have damaged the wheels.
“Apparently that’s expected at this time of year,” she added.
The services Miss Cliss joins on a daily basis are always “ridiculously busy.
“Sometimes I don’t even have anywhere to stand, let alone sit”, she said.
A similar opinion is being echoed across social media.
One rail user posted: “I can’t remember the last time I experienced a journey with @greateranglia without delays. #poorservice”
Another said: “More delays. At what point do I get a season ticket refund? My clients wouldn’t pay for substandard service, why should I @greateranglia?”
Have you been affected by train cancellations or delays? Email email@example.com and tell us your story.